I’m not a fan of OJ Simpson’s by any definition. But, I do feel that our legal system put him into double jeopardy. That is, he was acquitted of murder, and yet later retried for the same crime. How is it that he was found not guilty for having murdered two people, and yet fined $33M for their wrongful death? How does this happen?
It turns out that wrongful death is much easier to prove than murder. “Wrongful death” only requires a “preponderance of evidence”. Although a “shadow of a doubt” may exist, you can conclude guilty anyway. Further, a wrongful death jury need to only have 75% of the jurors agree (9 of 12). Lastly, you can’t “plea the 5th” in a civil case. You have to respond on the stand. I don’t understand why we have the 5th amendment for criminal cases and not for civil ones. Either it’s unfair to make someone testify in ways that might hurt them or it’s not. We can’t have it both ways.
Unfortunately, wrongful death lawsuits have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with money. This entire branch of our legal system has been carefully carved and sculpted by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers. Justice would have the murderer behind bars, and the public safe. But we don’t have that. Does Fred Goldman and his lawyers getting rich give us justice?
What boggles my mind most is why more people don’t stand up for OJ against our completely broken legal system. He was legally acquitted. Even if we think he is guilty, we need to let him go – that issue was concluded long ago. If you think our system is broken for not finding him guilty, then fight for that. But if you aren’t fighting for that, because you think our system usually works, and you think that “beyond a shadow of a doubt” is a good idea, then you absolutely must support OJ now. This is double jeopardy, plain and simple, because everyone hates him.
I want our legal system to be about truth and justice, rather than money and appeasing public sentiment. By allowing both a criminal and civil trial on the same issue, conducted under different rules, we are accepting hypocrisy in our system. Stop thinking, “Oh good – OJ is getting what he deserves”, and instead think about what it means to be “innocent until proven guilty”. OJ was not proven guilty. Yet we treat him as though he is guilty anyway. This pisses me off far more than whether he got away with murder or not.